Indians sign 1B David Cooper to minor-league contract
There's been lots of important moveps made this week in the minors, starting with the signing of David Cooper to a minor-league deal:
Depending on what David Cooper does in the next couple of weeks, there's a chance the Indians could take a look at the first baseman in September. They signed the former No.1 pick to a minor-league deal Tuesday and sent him to their spring training site in Goodyear, Ariz.
On April 3, Cooper lay on his left side on an operating table in Phoenix and underwent a delicate four-hour endoscopic procedure. Dickman inserted a special breathing tube to block the air flow on one side of Cooper's chest cavity, temporarily deflating the lung and creating an empty space to give the surgeon room to work. He made small incisions between the ribs, and with the help of flexible plastic tubes called portals, removed the herniated disk material and reinforced the spine with some assorted hardware and bone grafts from Cooper's rib.
It's well worth reading the whole thing, as there's much more on the injury and surgery in the Crasnick article. Cooper had a herniated disk in his thoracic region, or the chest cavity. It's not a common injury, and it's very difficult to repair because it's hard to get to because of the rib cage. He injured it on this play last season:
Before the surgery, Cooper was known as a first baseman whose best position is probably DH. He was a first-round pick in 2008 (the Indians picked Lonnie Chisnehall that year), and has decent minor-league numbers. He's probably not a 25+ home run guy, but has good contact skills and should be able to hit for a high average. He had more walks than strikeouts in the minors, but his major-league SO/BB ratio looks like Chisenhall's.
And given what the Indians have right now, that's probably ok. Nick Swisher should be the everyday first baseman, and Jason Giambi can't play every day. In Columbus there's Matt LaPorta and Chun-Hsiu Chen, neither of whom are going to help the Indians this year. Before the injury, Cooper was hitting .300/.324/.464 for Toronto as a 25-year-old, so it's certainly a worthwhile risk to take. Cooper will play in a couple games in Arizona, then head to Columbus.
Jerry Crasnick (the same reporter who wrote the piece on Cooper's surgery above) tweeted that Cooper has an opt out clause in his contract:
David Cooper's deal with #indians includes a late August opt out clause if he's not added to big league roster.— Jerry Crasnick (@jcrasnick) August 13, 2013
In other words, if he isn't added to the 40-man roster by September 1st, he can become a free agent. He must not have the minor-league service time to become a minor-league free agent, so he wanted an out if he wasn't making progress with the Indians.
From Cleveland's perspective, Cooper is a guy who could help the Indians off the bench down the stretch. He's left-handed, but hasn't had any problems against left-handed pitchers either in the minors or the majors. But he's going to have to prove that he can play the field as well as get back in hitting shape after missing most of the season. If he does get added to the 40-man roster (and the Indians have a free spot), I believe he would have an option for 2014.
Cooper's career stats:
|162 Game Avg.||162||509||41||0||14||25||81||.270||.310||.441||.750||101|
Indians promote RHP Cody Anderson and CF Tyler Naquin to Akron
If you've been following the minor-league updates, you'll know that both Naquin and Anderson have had excellent seasons, but they've been a little bit old for their levels. Both are 22, and most good prospects in the Carolina League are 21 years or younger. But both should be considered prospects.
Anderson was a 2011 draft pick (11th Round) out of a Junior College, and he's outperformed many pitchers taken ahead of him (most notably Dillon Howard). He profiles as a back-of-the-rotation guy, but he immediately becomes the best starting pitcher on the Akron staff. This season in Carolina he's posted a 2.34 ERA while allowing just 7.7 H/9. He's by far the best pitcher in the wave below the Salazar-Bauer-House group.
Naquin was the Indians' first round pick in 2012. There were concerns that he'd become a tweener outfielder, a player who wouldn't have enough range for center but wouldn't be able to hit enough for a corner spot. But it looks like he'll be able to stay in center field, and that's excellent news. But AA will be a true test for Naquin, and we should know by the middle of next season whether he'll be able to help the Indians.
|2013||22||2 Teams||2 Lgs||A+-AA||109||502||27||6||9||14||7||42||113||.275||.344||.421||.765|
Naquin's promotion caused a chain reaction in the levels below. 22-year-old Logan Vick, who had been an on-base machine with Lake County, was promoted to Carolina, and Cody Ferrell, a 23-year-old undrafted signing, was promoted from Mahoning Valley to Lake County. Neither should be considered a prospect now.